Friday, March 4, 2016

Rajesh and Nupur Talwar: India: Tanveer Mir, the Talwar's lawyer, discusses the case in an interview with "Bench and Bar" - and says they are the only clients of his whose innocence he is absolutely sure of..."Any lawyer who reads the case file would come to the inescapable conclusion that the case is a frame-up. When the appeal opens before the Division Bench and the aspects of the case are probed into by the judges, they will know that on the basis of evidence on record a conviction cannot stand in court. I trust myself to convince them on those grounds. We don’t have idiots sitting there. Where there is no legal merit, the verdict has to go.” (Must Read. HL);

INTERVIEW: "Your success may be delayed but not denied": In Conversation with Tanveer Mir," conducted by Smrithi Suresh, published by Bench and Bar on March 3, 2016.

GIST: "The powerful message welcomes one in the office of Tanveer Ahmed Mir, a leading criminal lawyer who walks the talk. The lead counsel in several high profile cases, Mir has appeared in the 2G spectrum case, the Talwar murder trial, and the only triple murder case in the Delhi High Court where all three accused were acquitted. In this interview with Bar & Bench’s Smrithi Suresh, Mir talks about his love for trial courts, and why he believes only in the innocence of the Talwars.........There is also a personal satisfaction and motivation behind the manner in which he deals with his cases. ‘I derive a personal kick in walloping prosecutors around. Because in an adversarial system, it is You vs Me so let us see who is better and who researches best or presents his case better! That, gives me a high.’ However, he is stoic when he adds that there is only client of his whose innocence he is absolutely sure of - Dr. Rajesh & Nupur Talwar.........The Aarushi Talwar trial: (Rebecca John, who had also appeared for the Talwars, once termed the case as a ‘media witch hunt’.).........The conversation veers towards the infamous Arushi Talwar murder.  The parents of slain Aarushi Talwar were convicted by the trial court. Mir is appearing for the doctor duo before the Allahabad High Court. Senior Counsel Rebecca John, who had also appeared for the Talwars once termed the case as a ‘media witch hunt’. It is a viewpoint Mir agrees with. ‘The Aarushi Talwar case was where the electronic media had a vested interest. In September 2013, when the intrigue in the case was at its peak, I had a reporter walking into my office with his camera crew asking about the updates of the case and other mundane stuff. But what hit me like a missile was when this media person/broker offered me 2.5 lakhs (in cash) for an exclusive interview with Dr. Rajesh Talwar. So I asked him in jest as to why was he giving me money, we lawyers anyway love the camera and shooting our mouths off!’ “He said that on primetime when they run a 10 seconds advertisement, they get around Rs. 80,000. But if this slot is given to you say during an Indo-Pak Semi-final world cup match, it would  sold for 10 lakhs. The Talwars, at that time, were fetching 4-5 lakhs. The story was selling like hot cakes so the electronic media, with certain exceptions, had an interest in propagating the Talwars as murderers of the ghastly crime. If the servants were touted as the murderers, the story would not sell at all.” There is more. “Talwars is a case which has all the ingredients of a potboiler which is why you have a book, movies etc. It had sex, sleaze and salacious conduct and everything that appeals to the prurient side of being.  A 13-year old is found sleeping with a 50 year old grandfather like man. Gibberish like how the Talwars were party hoppers, wife swappers etc. started making the rounds. Who has the evidence to show that they were wife swappers? Nobody has come forth with proof. All this is humoungously titillating. Unfortunately for my clients, the electronic media was at the edge in this case and that was always going to haunt the family; despite no direct evidence of their guilt.” Coming down hard on a certain news channel, Mir rues about how nobody wanted to debate over what he terms as ‘real issues.’ “I was on Arnab Goswami’s show regarding this case where he reiterated that there is evidence [to prove that the parents did the crime]. The problem is that if you tell him that this is real evidence, he does not want to talk about it. The real evidence was that during final arguments, both sides agreed that if the testimony of Bharti Mandal (the servant  who came to the house at 6 am on the day of the crime) was admitted then the Talwars need to be convicted and if it is not, then they should be let off. Mandal’s first statement was recorded on 16th May itself, the day that Arushi’s body was discovered. Later, her statements were recorded twice by the CBI officers. When she came to court, she gave a completely different statement. While being cross examined, she admitted that she was tutored to give the witness account that she did in court. She also admitted that this statement was never given before by her in front of anybody. I argued that Mandal is not a reliable witness and she can’t be believed because she admitted to being tutored and once she makes that admission, her testimony can’t be rendered under any kind of evidence. The case could not be based on her statement. The judge did the exact opposite and based the case only on what she said. But very strangely, and what I found very absurd was that the reasons he gave for relying on her witness. He noted that I agree with Mr. Mir on the veracity of Mandal’s claims but I am still willing to go by her statement as she belongs to the lower strata of the society!” “This is what I wanted Arnab to debate on –  can any judge state in his verdict, that he was willing to believe the witness depending on their social standing? Unfortunately, these issues never get debated for they are purely social, legal and technical in nature. The Arushi Talwar trial was all about sex for the electronic media. That is the misfortune. One exception to this has been Avirook Sen’s book who has outlined the episode nicely.” He pauses for a while before continuing in a softer tone, this time on the conviction. “Looking at it from another angle, who says judges are not under pressure due to societal mood? Convicting a person is the easiest. Judge Shyamlal also had a strong record of convictions. Even his judgment is beset with a school of thought bent on conviction. Otherwise how can you, as a legal specialist, decide guilt based on the strata of a society? If you believe in an eye witness account, do it regardless of whether the statement is made by a rikshaw puller or someone with a Mercedes.” He laments about the fact that due to the barrage of news channels these days, one gets away with a lot of things because the rules are not stringent and the content is not always tested on the grounds of slander or libel. Mushrooming of electronic media:  Mir has an interesting take on the influx of 24/7 news channels and whether it has contributed to the increase in media trials. ‘The Arushi Talwar case is an example of the damaging effects of unregulated electronic media. Recently, I was on another debate with Arnab again over the Sheena Bora murder case. One panellist was accusing Peter Mukherjea of having the ‘remote control’ and influencing witnesses etc. All this was said about him when the man hadn’t even been arrested. The only time I’ve seen Times Now being taken to the cleaners was when Justice PB Sawant sued the channel for a 100 crores when they showed his wrong picture in a news feature and he even got a decree in his favour. Unfortunately, such steps aren’t an everyday occurrence.’ “Lot of ridiculous stuff goes on tv and if you get caught in that whirlpool, then you’ve had it. The Talwars realised this the wrong way for their story was virtually tabloid gold which was exploited every which way possible.” As per the prosecutor, the father killed the child and then drank, before watching porn. And he was saying this in open court, with the judge laughing. What is this? Had this happened before one of the tough judges who I am used to practicing before, the judge would have taken him to cleaners or issued contempt. You don’t come in a criminal court and say such things without any proof. This is precisely the reason why video-taping proceedings is the need of the hour. Everyone will know what are people upto in court. Otherwise we lawyers end up peddling a lot of nonsense!” However, Mir remains hopeful of the appeal verdict. “Any lawyer who reads the case file would come to the inescapable conclusion that the case is a frame-up. When the appeal opens before the Division Bench and the aspects of the case are probed into by the judges, they will know that on the basis of evidence on record a conviction cannot stand in court. I trust myself to convince them on those grounds. We don’t have idiots sitting there. Where there is no legal merit, the verdict has to go.”

The entire interview can be found at:

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